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review 2015-05-01 20:05
The Slayer - Kele Moon

Chuito and Alaine's journey has some really dark moments that I felt to my core. Through it all love does prevail and my heart was put back together again. I won’t soon forget this captivating friends-to-lovers story. I'll be waiting with bated breath for Tino's book next.  


Read more. 

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review 2015-02-03 03:09
Like No One Else - Maureen Smith

LNOE sticks to a similarly formula as its predecessor when it comes to the suspense plot in this story; the stranger lurking right under everyone's noses and attacking his prey while the police are none the wiser as to who and why of the case. There was just the right amount of suspense while not being stingy with the sexy romance between these two characters. I enjoyed the witty banter between Tommie and Paulo. Tommie’s and Paulo’s backstories were also well-drawn and their chemistry jumps off the page. Read more.

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review 2015-01-31 03:31
Flower in the Desert - Lavender Parker,Katy Farrell

FITD was less than 150 pages, but read more like a full length novel. The set up was believable and the connection between Jase and Ruby was convincingly intense after their life or death endeavor in the canyon. Admittedly, I enjoyed the first half more than the latter half though. Read more.

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text 2014-10-11 23:37
Pandemonium - Daryl Gregory (Author)

Pandemonium reminds me of those times when my foodie friends are dragging me to a “fabulous new restaurant” where (mostly) familiar ingredients are deconstructed, spiced and recombined in a creative way. At least this time, instead of an unsettling mess, it resulted in one of those perfect, satisfying meals that fulfill a sensory need as much as a physical one. Not so unusual that I’m left with a disturbing aftertaste, and not so routine that it is immediately forgettable. To wit:


Salvatore’s award-winning pizza with wine-poached fig, bacon and gorgonzola. Unusual but delicious take on pizza. http://salvatorestomatopies.com/2012/08/24/salvatores-wins-the-first-annual-slice-of-sun-prairie-pizza-contest-with-wine-poached-fig-and-local-bacon-pizza/


Pandemonium is a lot like that. Somewhat familiar elements drawn from comic books, buddy flicks and mythology are blended together in a plot that moves quickly but respects each ingredient. Add in some complex characterization, dashes of dark humor and develop it with truly fine writing, and I’m served a book that satisfying on both intellectual and emotional levels.


The simple summary: Del is returning to his mother’s home with a dual purpose: confess a recent car accident and psychiatric hospitalization, and to meet a famous demonology researcher at a national conference. Demons are real, although their manifestations usually pass quickly, while the behavior follows certain archetypes: The Painter, the Little Angel, Truth: “The news tracked them by name, like hurricanes. Most people went their whole lives without seeing one in person. I’ve seen five–six, counting today’s.” When Del was young, he was possessed by the Hellion, a wild boy entity, and Del has recently developed suspicions that the Hellion never left him. The story follows Del as he attempts to understand and perhaps free the entity inside him.


The plot moved nicely with enough balance between introspection and action to keep me interested. What I loved the most, however, was the writing. There’s the vivid imagery:


A small white-haired women glared up at me, mouth agape. She was seventy, seventy-five years old, a small bony face on a striated, skinny neck: bright eyes, sharp nose, and skin intricately webbed from too much sun or wind or cigarettes. She looked like one of those orphaned baby condors that has to be fed by puppets”


the humor:


The question, then, was how long could a human being stay awake? Keith Richards could party for three days straight, but I wasn’t sure if he counted as a human being


and sheer cleverness (because I’ve been this lost driving in Canada):


For the past few hours we’d been twisting and bobbing along two-lane back roads, rollercoastering through pitch-black forests. And now we were lost. Or rather, the world was lost. The GPS told us exactly where we were but had no idea where anything else was.
Permanent Global Position: You Are Here.”


For those who might want a sense of the flavor, I was reminded of American Gods, of George R.R. Martin’s Wild Card world (my review) blended with Mythago Wood (my review), but done much, much better. While I had problems maintaining interest in each of the aforementioned, I had no such challenge with Pandemonium. Each bite revealed something almost familiar but somehow unexpected. There’s a lot to enjoy, and an equal amount to ruminate on after finishing. I’ll be looking for more from Gregory.


Oh yes: a sincere thank you to bookaneer for inviting me to dinner.

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review 2014-10-07 02:27
shoes worth walking in
Another Man's Moccasins - Craig Johnson

The Walt Longmire series is proving extremely satisfying, and the fourth book, Another Man’s Moccasins, is no exception.


What keeps me coming back?


The characters: mature throwbacks to Western cowboy mythology with values of independence, loyalty and trust–but without the abundant sexism and racism. Sheriff Walt Longmire is a former Marine, ex-football player and is as faithful as they come, and his brother-in-arms, Henry Running Bear, is normally centered, thoughtful and self-contained. In this book, Walt relives some of their interactions in Vietnam, giving interesting insight into their personalities now and a sense of how they’ve matured.


I thought about all the wayward memories that had been harassing me lately, the recrimination, doubt, injured pride, guilt, and all the bitterness of the moral debate over a long-dead war. I sat there with the same feeling I’d had in the tunnel when the big Indian had tried to choke me. I was choking now on a returning past that left me uneasy, restless, and unmoored.”


Then there’s the writing, an enjoyable combination of clear prose and vivid imagery:


The other [photo] was of the same woman seated at a bus station, the kind you see dotting the high plains, usually attached to a Dairy Queen or small cafe. She was seated on a bench with two young children, a boy and a girl. She wore the same smile, but her hair was pulled back in a ponytail in this photo, so her face was not hidden. She looked straight at the camera as she tickled the two children, who looked up with eyes closed and mouths open in laughing ecstasy.


Vietnam flashbacks are not a reliable strategy for drawing me into a story. I came of age in a period where Hollywood was enthusiastically revisiting the war, finally acknowledging the hardships of the people who fought there. It began with Apocalypse Now and followed by a string of hits (Platoon, Hamburger Hill, Born on the Fourth of July, Full Metal Jacket, The Casualties of War, Jacob’s Ladder, Good Morning Vietnam), so it’s not easy to play to my sympathies–they’ve already been manipulated to the max by Hollywood. Yet the eerie possible connection of Walt’s past experiences there to the current case works well. By the end, I realized Johnson had some very clever parallels between the two story lines. I was also impressed the way Walt revisiting his memories had him questioning his racial biases, as well as giving him unexpected empathy with a suspect.


Why not five stars? Walt was a bit slow to pick up on several things that could have been dealt with by basic investigation; general over-protectiveness about his daughter, which made sense but isn’t really a palatable storyline; and the complicated situation with Vic, who occasionally feels larger than life. Still, those issues pale in comparison to the rest of the read. Truly, it is an enjoyable story that was worth a second read.

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